Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow (1980)

Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow (1980)

Directed by: Sum Cheung

Starring: Kang-Yeh Cheng, John Cheung, Tien Hsi Tang

One interesting thing about kung fu movies is that most of them (at least from the 70’s) draw from the same two or three different stories; like someone’s parent/master being killed and they have to get revenge or having to train to take out a local gang that’s terrorizing the townsfolk. This frees up the rest of the movie to mostly be about the actual fighting, and the choreography really ends up determining how good of a film it is. The downside is, of course, when the choreography isn’t that great, like in this movie.

A guy keeps getting beat up, so he tries to get a drunken boxing master to train him. He does, to a point, but is killed by the leader of a gang that the main character beat up just for fun. He must train more to be able to avenge his master’s death, so he goes to a weird hermit guy who lives in the woods and trains in the snake and monkey techniques from his master: an actual snake and a monkey that he ties up and makes fight each other.

There is a scene in this movie where an obviously scared shitless monkey is trying to keep a cobra from killing him. It’s interesting but it smacks bigtime of animal cruelty and that’s not so cool. Otherwise, the only person in the movie who pulls off a convincing martial artist is the main character; the drunken master and the main villain are both pretty poor at it, and that hurts the whole thing. The monkey kung fu hermit in the woods was a pretty neat idea, though.

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